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Six-week Old Survives Coronavirus After Quick Work by Kaiser Permanente Staff




The COVID-19 pandemic has arguably been the greatest trial the healthcare system has ever faced. But in the middle of this challenging time there are pockets of good news that showcase the heart of what it means to work as a health care provider.

And one instance happened in early April at Kaiser Permanente-Downey Medical Center when the hospital took in its youngest COVID-19 patient, six-week-old baby Evelio.

Evelio’s condition started off unremarkable. His mother called the KP nurse advice line after noticing he had a low-grade fever. An advice line nurse asked a physician to call her back, and from there she was instructed to bring little Evelio in to be examined by Eunice Kong, MD, a pediatrician at the Kaiser Permanente Bellflower Medical Offices.

Dr. Kong saw that baby Evelio had a fever with no clear cause and inexplicable lab results. Alarmed, Dr. Kong consulted with her colleague, Dr. Victor Wong, MD, a Pediatric Infectious Disease physician.

As it would turn out, that decision was a life-saving move.

“Knowing that COVID-19 was prevalent in the community and babies under a year old are at greater risk of complications because of their immature immune systems, I thought the best and safest thing to do would be to admit baby Evelio to the hospital,” said Dr. Wong.

Evelio was sent to the Downey Medical Center Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), where a team of highly skilled healthcare providers gave Evelio around-the-clock care while the family anxiously awaited the COVID-19 test results. When the results came in, Evelio’s mother, Johanna, was shocked.

“My brain was going a thousand miles an hour, I didn’t know what was going to happen,” she said. “I took my son into the hospital and I didn’t know if I was going to walk out with him.”

Beyond being concerned for her son’s health, Johanna was also worried about how the physicians and staff would treat her and her son after learning he had COVID-19.

“I was surprised by how the nurses, lab techs, and all the staff took such good care of us and made me feel like everything was going to be okay,” Johanna said. “One night Johanna even saw nurse Dannielle Owen, RN don complete PPE just to go soothe baby Evelio back to sleep.

Evelio was the youngest patient and first baby to be hospitalized for COVID-19 at Downey Medical Center.

“This was about real collaboration between nurses, physicians, and the other members of Evelio’s care team,” explains Dr. Christopher Chinnici, MD, one of the physicians treating Evelio.

“They (the team) identified a child at potentially higher risk for serious infection and worked with our internal transport system to connect the clinic and inpatient teams to get the child into the hospital as quickly as possible. Even with the requirements for additional PPE and worries about their own health, the physicians and staff provided the family with an excellent care experience,” says Chinnici.

After three days in the PICU, Evelio improved, and he was able to be discharged. Now, over a month later, Evelio is home and almost fully recovered.

As his mother recently shared, thanks to teamwork and excellent care, “He’s eating—overeating actually—and smiling. Thank you so much!”